Crime rate drops 3% in Jackson
By Jeremy Hudson
Source: Mississippi News
Date: January 17, 2004
Harold Gater/The Clarion-Ledger
Source: Jackson Police Department
After peaking in 1991, crime has dropped to a 16-year low.
Statistics released Friday showed 17,144 major crimes reported in 2003, a 3 percent drop from 2002 and the first time the numbers have been so low since before 1988.
Major crimes are homicide, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, larceny-theft, auto theft and arson. "While the Jackson Police Department is proud to announce the reduction in the impact of crime on our community, we recognize from the January 2004 homicides that neither the community nor the police can relax our efforts that earned the positive news," Moore said in a statement.
There have been four homicides this month, compared to two at the same time last year. Jackson finished 2003 with 45 homicides.
Rick Whitlow, director of community affairs for the Metro Crime Commission-SafeCity Watch, said the report is good although the year has gotten off to a violent start.
"The climate, I think, is changing," Whitlow said. "JPD is arresting people. The break down seems to be between the jail house and the penitentiary."
Jackson resident Carol Stewart, however, remains skeptical.
"What the numbers are doesn't matter as much as if you feel safe in the city. I don't think right now you can feel too safe in the city," she said.
Moore said he understands how people feel, even though crime has dropped during each of his two years on the job.
Four slayings this month is too many, he said. "No matter how we look at the situation, stats don't mean too much then," he said.
Violent crime, often used as a barometer of public safety, has decreased 16 percent in the last two years while major crime has dropped 7 percent, according to the Police Department's statistics.
Since the implementation of crime strategies recommended by the Maple-Linder Consulting Group in 1999 and the city's Five-Point Plan for Fighting Crime, violent crime has dropped 21 percent and major crime is down 15 percent, Moore said.
Moore credits much of the decline to better community involvement and computer crime tracking, which allows officers to pinpoint where crime is happening and strengthen their presence in those areas.
Crime was down throughout the city, with the exception of northeast Jackson, where there was a 1.3 percent increase.
Belmont Trapp, who lives in Fondren, said she was among those upset with the Police Department early last year because of a rash of robberies and burglaries. But her view of the Police Department changed after she went through a program that familiarizes citizens with police officers. "I feel safe," Trapp said. "I know those people are out there who are looking to steal or hurt, but they are out there in other cities, too. We have officers here who work hard and are trying to get these people off the streets.
"We just need to get behind them and help them by sharing information."
But Hezekiah Watkins, who owns the Corner Food Store on Dalton Street, still feels "bombarded with crime."
"It's going to be a hard ticket to sell people when you've got four people killed already this year," Watkins said.
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